The inaugural meeting of the Seven Fields Group was held to adopt Penhill Copse as Community Woodland - we went further and 'adopted' the lot!
Penhill Copse is to be found on maps dating back to 1796, and has signs of antique coppicing, although it appears to been clear felled, probably in the First World War. It has an interesting mixture of trees including Ash, Beech and Maple. The shrub layer consists of Hazel, Spindle, Elder, Currant, Holly etc. The floor layer has Ivy, Dog Mercury, Celandine, Wood Anemone and three varieties of Violet. Some of the Fungi found are King Arthur's Cakes, Dead Men's Fingers, Judas Ears, Bracket Fungus and the uncommon Earth Star Fungus has been found on its outskirts. Many birds make their home here, including Greater Spotted Woodpeckers, Long Tailed Tits and Gold Crests. The cries of the Tawny and Small Eared Owls have been heard. There is also a healthy population of Squirrels and Bats.
Who owns Penhill Copse?
At this time - October 2000 - the best part of Penhill Copse belongs to the development consortium building Swindon's Northern Development, it is the Open Space allowance. The other part belongs to Swindon Borough Council. A sewer line runs alongside a lime dust path and this roughly marks the boundary. Developers lower than, Borough higher than.
There is a Tree Preservation Order on Penhill Copse, the Borough required the developers to conduct a survey and carry out any necessary arboricultural work to make it safe.
Is Penhill Copse Ancient Woodland?
It certainly is not included on the British Ancient Woodlands List , but in the 1980's when these lists were compiled a decision was made not to bother to find woodland of less than 5 acres. Penhill Copse is 3.5 acres. But it has all the other requirements, it has species, especially ground flora, which indicates ancient woodland, it is on the side of a steep hill, it is on a parish boundary, in fact strides across it. Its name 'Copse' is an indication. In fact it has all the 'indicators, except it is not on that list!. The Seven Fields Group continues to research trying to prove it!